Jazz artists Ramsey Lewis and John Pizzarelli are planning an unforgettable evening on October 13

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pennsylvania — Prolific and powerful jazz artists Ramsey Lewis and John Pizzarelli will celebrate the music of Nat King Cole — “the best friend a song ever had” — with their “Straighten Up and Fly Right” tribute concert at 7:30 p.m. on October 13 at the Eisenhower Auditorium.

The program will feature Lewis on piano and Pizzarelli on vocals and guitar performing some of Cole’s unforgettable hits including “Route 66”, “This Will Make You Laugh”, “Paper Moon”, “Nature Boy” and “Hit That Jive Jack,” along with classic Lewis songs.

At a young age, Lewis studied classical piano, performing works by composers such as Joseph Haydn, Ludwig van Beethoven and Johannes Brahms. He was 15 when his church asked him to join the jazz band, where a faithful musician dragged him.

The Chicago-based pianist-songwriter first sparked the interest of jazz fans with the Ramsey Lewis Trio’s debut album, “Ramsey Lewis and The Gentlemen of Swing,” in 1956. But he entertained them with charts, such as the 1965 hits, “The In Crowd” and “Hang on Sloopy”, and his penchant for gospel and smooth-jazz styles.

Since then, Lewis has released over 80 recordings showcasing his jazz, funk and pop compositions. He has won three Grammy Awards (both as a jazz and rhythm-and-blues artist) and five of his albums have gone gold.

Lewis’ musical expertise has earned him numerous career opportunities, including a 13-episode public television show “Legends of Jazz.” He is the artistic director of Jazz at Ravinia in suburban Chicago and sits on the board of directors of a downtown music school in his hometown. He also helped establish the Ramsey Lewis Foundation, which aims to connect at-risk youth to the world of music. He has hosted radio shows in Chicago, including “The Ramsey Lewis Morning Show,” and his current syndicated program, “Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis,” airs in various cities across the United States.

Ada J. Kenney